Review Category : National News

Newark Airport temporarily closes after plane engine fire

WABC-TV(NEWARK, N.J.) — Newark Liberty International Airport was temporarily closed on Tuesday night after a plane engine caught fire.

Emergency chutes were deployed from United 1579 and passengers evacuated after “flames were reported coming from the right side of the engine,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Boeing 757 was headed to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, when the control tower notified the United Airlines crew of the apparent flames while the plane was taxiing, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in a statement.

“Customers are being transported back to the terminal,” the statement said. “We are working to get our customers to San Francisco as soon as possible.”

There were five minor injuries, according to Newark Airport.

The airport said it was closed for the safety of passengers and to expect delays. It was reopened a few hours later.

Emergency response teams at #EWR; plane with reported engine fire. No reported injuries. Airport closed for passenger safety.Expect delays.

— Newark Airport (@EWRairport) May 24, 2017

#EWR has reopened after earlier incident of plane with apparent engine fire. Reports of 5 minor injuries. Expect delays remainder of night.

— Newark Airport (@EWRairport) May 24, 2017

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Newark Airport temporary closes after plane engine fire

WABC-TV(NEWARK, N.J.) — Newark Liberty International Airport was temporarily closed on Tuesday night after a plane engine caught fire.

Emergency chutes were deployed from United 1579 and passengers evacuated after “flames were reported coming from the right side of the engine,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Boeing 757 was headed to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, when the control tower notified the United Airlines crew of the apparent flames while the plane was taxiing, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in a statement.

There was one minor injury, according to the spokesman.

“Customers are being transported back to the terminal,” the statement said. “We are working to get our customers to San Francisco as soon as possible.”

Newark Airport said in a tweet the airport was closed for the safety of passengers and to expect delays.

Emergency response teams at #EWR; plane with reported engine fire. No reported injuries. Airport closed for passenger safety.Expect delays.

— Newark Airport (@EWRairport) May 24, 2017

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Food stamps a casualty of President Trump’s proposed budget

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The budget released by the White House Tuesday contains proposed changes for the program that provides access to food for Americans who otherwise might not be able to afford it.

And anti-hunger advocates aren’t pleased. Lucy Melcher, associate director for advocacy with the anti-hunger group No Kid Hungry, argues that the proposed cuts are “devastating” to a program that research shows lifts people out of poverty.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps or SNAP, is the “hunger safety net” for Americans in poverty or out of work. Americans who make up to 130 percent of the poverty level, which is a monthly income of $2,600 for a family of four, are eligible for food stamps.

More than 44 million Americans participated in the food stamp program in 2016, according to the USDA. The number of people using the program increased during the economic recession and have fluctuated since 2010.

The decreased proposal in Trump’s budget is based on their estimate that fewer people will be on food stamps next year, but it also includes reforms that estimate it would reduce funding for SNAP by $190 million over the next ten years.

That much bigger cut is proposed under legislation that the administration plans to bring to Congress. The changes would tighten requirements for waivers that allow people who are considered capable of working but can’t find a job to stay on the program.

More than 75 percent of households who participate in SNAP have worked a job in the year before or after the receive benefits, according to the USDA. They are limited to three months of benefits unless they get a waiver from the state, such as if they live in an area where there are not enough jobs available. The administration was not clear on how it’s proposal would restrict these waivers but it could mean that people who are capable of working but can’t find a job have a harder time qualifying for benefits.

Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney said the cuts were an effort to get more people back to work, saying that people that needed food stamps during the recession are still on the program.

“If you’re paying for it isn’t it reasonable for you to at least ask that question aren’t there people on that program who shouldn’t be on there?” Mulvaney asked during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.

But No Kid Hungry’s Melcher said the budget doesn’t invest in programs to help people find work or help people

“You are instead pulling the rug out from people and leaving them with no safety net to provide for their most basic needs,” Melcher said.

BREAKING: @WhiteHouse budget CUTS critical programs that feed hungry kids. This is not right. Lrn more: https://t.co/FDywe0Mgdb #NoKidHungry pic.twitter.com/CJoGRiLUKt

— No Kid Hungry (@nokidhungry) May 23, 2017

The White House also proposed cuts to the Meals on Wheels program operated through the Department of Health and Human Services in its earlier budget proposal, which led to backlash and a surge in donations to the program.

That legislative proposal also proposes that states cover up to 25 percent of the cost of SNAP programs over the next 10 years, which would ultimately cut about $190 million from the program.

Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Young said he did not know if USDA had reached out to states for input on whether they could take on more of the cost of providing food stamps.

Some states that supported Trump in the election had the highest percentages of their populations receiving SNAP benefits in the 2016 fiscal year, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, including Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Of the 26 states, plus Washington, D.C., whose populations receive SNAP benefits at a rate higher than the national average, 18 chose Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue said just last week that he did not think the administration planned any changes to the SNAP program.

“As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes, you don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken and when the motto is ‘do right and feed everyone,’ I view that as very, very inclusive,” Perdue said in a hearing with the House Agriculture Committee last week.

Michael Young said much of the budget was put together before Perdue was confirmed on on April 24.

Members of Congress have emphasized that the president’s budget is just a starting off point and rarely passes as is. Melcher said No Kid hungry will be working with members of Congress to restore funding for food stamps.

“We plan to work closely with congress to make sure cuts of this level never see the light of day,” she said.

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Fiat Chrysler defeat devices allowed less pollution during tests, EPA says

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The U.S. government filed suit Tuesday against Fiat Chrysler, alleging the automaker equipped more than 100,000 vehicles with so-called defeat devices that circumvent federal emission standards.

The software — installed on diesel-fueled Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 in model years 2013 to 2016 — allegedly caused the vehicles’ emission system to “perform differently and less effectively during certain normal driving conditions than on federal emissions tests,” resulting in nitrogen oxide emissions above allowable levels during day-to-day driving, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Fiat Chrysler maintains that its software was designed to detect not testing conditions specifically but temperature and factors that could damage the engines if emission controls were activated.

The automaker “intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests,” it said in a statement, adding that its officials have been working with the EPA to “clarify issues related to the company’s emissions control technology.”

The allegations against Fiat Chrysler come on the heels of a huge settlement with Volkswagen, which in March plead guilty to intentionally thwarting EPA standards with different defeat devices installed in more than half a million cars in the United States. Volkswagen agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.

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Fiat Chrysler defeat devices allowed less pollution during tests, EPA says

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The U.S. government filed suit Tuesday against Fiat Chrysler, alleging the automaker equipped more than 100,000 vehicles with so-called defeat devices that circumvent federal emission standards.

The software — installed on diesel-fueled Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 in model years 2013 to 2016 — allegedly caused the vehicles’ emission system to “perform differently and less effectively during certain normal driving conditions than on federal emissions tests,” resulting in nitrogen oxide emissions above allowable levels during day-to-day driving, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Fiat Chrysler maintains that its software was designed to detect not testing conditions specifically but temperature and factors that could damage the engines if emission controls were activated.

The automaker “intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests,” it said in a statement, adding that its officials have been working with the EPA to “clarify issues related to the company’s emissions control technology.”

The allegations against Fiat Chrysler come on the heels of a huge settlement with Volkswagen, which in March plead guilty to intentionally thwarting EPA standards with different defeat devices installed in more than half a million cars in the United States. Volkswagen agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.

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DHS official: No plans to change security measures following Manchester attack

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Following Monday’s bombing that killed 22 and injured 59 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, there are currently no plans to make significant security changes in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security official.

The DHS official said that the federal security posture in the U.S. is already at high levels and that there is not much more to be done in the aftermath of the attack, allegedly carried out by 22-year-old Salman Abedi with an improvised explosive device outside the concert at the Manchester Arena.

The official did insist that federal authorities will continually assess whether any new measures are warranted.

ABC News has additionally learned that state and local fusion centers across the country — which include representatives from local, state and federal agencies — are working to identify potentially vulnerable “open venues” and upcoming events in their regions, so that they can help local police put together their latest security plans for those events and venues.

The FBI is also holding a call later this afternoon with law enforcement across the country to lay out what they know so far about the Manchester attack and urge vigilance. The call will be hosted by FBI headquarters, and it will include the heads of FBI field offices across the country, as well as leaders from state and local law enforcement agencies across the country.

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Bowie State student slain days before graduation honored at commencement ceremony

iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — Bowie State University honored senior student Richard Collins III during its commencement ceremony on Tuesday, just days after he was stabbed to death at the University of Maryland, College Park.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, Bowie State President Mickey Burnim honored Collins with a posthumous bachelor’s degree that was accepted by family and fellow cadets on his behalf.

Collins, 23, was stabbed in the chest Saturday, allegedly by 22-year-old University of Maryland student Sean Urbanski, according to police. He was set to graduate Tuesday and was recently commissioned in the Army as a second lieutenant, officials said.

Urbanski has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is being held without bond and is due in court next month.

Police called the attack random and “totally unprovoked.”

The University of Maryland’s police department said it has asked the FBI to assist in the investigation after it discovered that Urbanski, who is white, belonged to a Facebook group named “Alt-Reich.” Collins was black.

Bowie State, a historically black college located in Maryland, held a candlelight vigil in honor of Collins on Monday at 7 p.m. local time.

The school honored Collins with a cap and gown draped over a chair at Tuesday’s ceremony and with a moment of silence.

“It is a tragic loss to see our national treasure, in the form of Lt. Collins, taken away from us in this manner,” FBI spokesman Gordon Johnson said at a press conference Sunday.

People who knew Collins described him as a “good young man” who was excited about his future.

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Concerts, other ‘soft targets’ remain vulnerable to attack, experts say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The deadly blast outside the security barriers of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, marks the latest instance where a terror attack unfolded at a location that symbolized Western culture and also provided a so-called soft target.

Experts tell ABC News that soft targets offer terrorists both practical and symbolic value.

John Cohen, a former counter-terrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security, listed concert venues, transportation hubs, hotels, shopping malls and sports venues as examples of soft targets.

“They are places that are difficult to harden because that would undermine the very reason they exist,” said Cohen, who is now an ABC News consultant.

Manchester has now canceled concerts scheduled for later this week as musicians around the world expressed their horror and condolences.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, said that an attack at a concert carries deep cultural connotations.

“The symbolism of attacking Westerners who are enjoying themselves is what makes it an attractive target,” said Greenberg, who is also the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. “Terrorism is making civilians feel unsafe in their space.”

Evolving protection techniques

Security precautions have been ramped up throughout much of the U.S. and Europe in recent years in light of other attacks, though Greenberg said that in focusing on more obvious, high-profile targets, law enforcement may have merely diverted the possibility of attack into other areas.

“We’ve made it so secure in places that are known targets that they’ve pushed attacks into more marginalized places,” Greenberg said. “That’s an interesting part of what’s happened. Law enforcement has to secure not just the central places, but recognize what that means in terms of where it pushes an attack.”

Cohen noted that the evolving nature of how terror groups operate have placed soft targets in the sights of would-be terrorists who have not undergone military training.

“The tactics of groups like AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and ISIS have changed, where they have sought to inspire [followers] primarily through the internet and social media,” Cohen said. “Attacking a soft target doesn’t require a high degree of planning and support. You can essentially get your weapon, go to a public place and kill or injure as many people as you can.”

Cohen said that law enforcement officials are adapting by expanding the process by which they identify threatening individuals before an attack and determining “whether someone who comes to the attention of law enforcement poses a threat of carrying out one of these attacks.”

“At the end of the day it is extraordinarily difficult to secure every soft target within a jurisdiction, so our success in reducing these types of attacks will only come when we’re better able to identify those within our communities who are potential attackers and prevent them from committing an act of violence,” Cohen said.

Preparing the public moving forward

The prospect of eliminating the public’s proximity to soft targets isn’t necessarily possible, and Cohen notes how politicians and local officials regularly encourage people to continue to live their daily lives normally after such an attack.

That kind of encouragement is a way of combatting the second impact of a terror attack, which is the fear that terrorism instills in people in an effort to change their ways.

Greenberg said that attacks on soft targets have “succeeded in a lot of ways” in that they replace the public’s sense of safety with one of fear.

“Since 9/11 in this country, since 7/7 in Britain, there’s a heightened sense of fear about going about daily life,” she said, referencing attacks in 2001 and 2005, respectively. “If one of the things they are attacking is peace of mind in our daily life, they can succeed in doing that. That’s the goal.”

Cohen said that people should “be aware but not afraid” of going to soft target areas, noting that they should be observant and alert law enforcement if they spot anything suspicious, as well as plan accordingly when going to large events, like concerts, because there may be increased security.

Greenberg urges people to adapt and evolve with the changing times.

“Terrorism is a problem that we have to manage, not a problem we can completely eradicate in foreseeable future, so every attack teaches us more ways to be vigilant,” Greenberg said. “I don’t think you have to tradeoff liberty for security. Good security allows people to live their lives.”

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Over 700,000 foreigners overstayed their visas in 2016, says new DHS report

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than half a million foreigners stayed in the United States after their visas expired during the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday.

Of the more than 50 million foreigners that entered the U.S., 1.47 percent — or 739,478 people — stayed in the country past the length of their visa. That includes those who stay one day over their allowable time, as well as people who have no intention of ever leaving the U.S.

This report shows that “we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” said a senior DHS official Monday, pointing out that the number of people who stayed in the U.S. illegally is close to the population of Seattle.

“The integrity of our immigration system is at stake,” the official added.

Of the total number of overstays last year, 628,799 people or 1.25 percent had no record of departure, known as an “in-country” overstay at the end of the fiscal year, according to DHS. However, due to continued departures and changes to immigration status, that number decreased over time. By January 10, the official number of people who overstayed visas in the fiscal year of 2016 had dropped to 544,676.

This is the second year that DHS has formally released these numbers.

The report, which is only a snapshot in time, represents about 96 percent of all people entering the U.S. on a temporary visa, including temporary workers, students, exchange visitors, personal travel and business travel – a larger pool of people than the 2015 report. The only exceptionsin 2016 were airline crews and transiting passengers.

However, the report does not include people entering the U.S through land checkpoints, but in some cases departures to Canada or Mexico are included to close out a case.

When determining if someone overstayed a visa, DHS needs to take into account whether they applied for a more permanent immigration benefit or legally extended their stay in the U.S.

The U.K. followed by Germany, Italy and France had the largest total number of people overstaying their travel visas for business or pleasure, among countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa.

The visa waiver program promotes commerce and ease of travel, but it also creates national security risks, as Europeans from those countries who have fought with ISIS in the Middle East return home.

“They have learned how to make IEDs, employ drones to drop ordnance, and acquired experience on the battlefield that by all reports they are bringing back home,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly at a recent speech.

“They can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence,” he added.

This has been a national security concern for years. For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to track visitors to the U.S. on entry and exit.

Brazil had by far the most total overstays from countries that do not participate in the visa waiver program – followed by Venezuela, China, Colombia and Nigeria.

While DHS says it is confident in its data, there is a chance that someone could leave the U.S. as an “imposter” because departures are currently only tracked using biographic data, like an airplanes manifest.

Without biometric data – like fingerprints, facial recognition — there is a chance that someone could lie about leaving.

Despite Congressional mandate and years of officials calling for biometric exit data, it still remains a challenge for DHS.

Airports were never designed to control customs departure from within the U.S., according to DHS. For example, international departures and domestic departures coming at airports.

In addition, if you scan someone too early in the check-in process, there is still a chance they could lie about leaving and if you scan at the gate, you run into time and space constraints.

There is currently a pilot program at the Atlanta airport that is using facial recognition to match people with their photos as they leave the country.

When people overstay their visas the data is shared with ICE to carry out enforcement. It’s provided daily and in conjunction with ICE’s priorities, like national security and law enforcement needs.

However, a DHS inspector general report earlier this month found that a “fragmented, ineffective” set of information technology (IT) systems hinder efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track visa overstays.

ICE relies on IT systems that lack integration and information-sharing capabilities, forcing ICE personnel to piece together information from up to 27 distinct DHS information systems and databases to accurately determine an individual’s overstay status.

This inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases – taking months for ICE to determine a visa holder’s status and whether someone poses a national security threat, found the report.

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Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing ‘neo-Nazi’ roommates who ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) — Tampa police are investigating after a man allegedly admitted to killing his two roommates because he believes they disrespected his Muslim faith.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested Friday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.

Around 5:29 p.m. local time on May 19, Arthurs entered Green Planet Smoke Shop in Tampa armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, according to a police report on the incident. He allegedly demanded that the employee and one customer who were in the store at the time get on the ground as he pointed the gun at one of the captives.

“Why shouldn’t I kill you?” one victim says Arthurs yelled while holding them captive, according to the police report.

About two to three minutes after Arthurs entered the shop, a second customer entered and was also ordered to get on the ground.

“Arthurs informed all three victims in the store that he had already killed somebody,” said the police report. “He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries.”

Approximately five minutes after the third victim entered the store, two Tampa police officers arrived to the scene and confronted Arthurs.

According to the police report, one victim was able to run away from the scene, while the officers convinced Arthurs to let the remaining two victims go. After minutes of negotiating, Arthurs surrendered and allowed officers to arrest him.

While being walked to the police car, Arthurs made references to “Allah Mohammed” and stated, “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country,” according to the police report.

While under arrest, Arthurs was asked if anyone else was hurt, to which he replied, “The people in the apartment, but they aren’t hurt, they’re dead,” according to the police report.

Arthurs then directed police to the apartment, where two male victims were found dead. He identified the victims to police as his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk,18, and provided details of the shooting, including the rifle he used, the sequence of events, and the exact location of the shooting and the placement of the shot on each victim, according to the police report.

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by the individuals disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Arthurs’ fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was also arrested May 21 after allegedly being linked to explosive devices found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuk were found dead, Russell was seen outside of the apartment dressed in full U.S. Army camouflage “crying and visibly upset,” according to the police report.

“That’s my roommate (Russell),” Arthurs said, according to the report. “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”

Arthurs also told police that before the murders he had been aware of “Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure,” according to the report.

“From our point of view, there was a double homicide and we arrested the guy who did the homicide,” a spokesperson for Tampa Police Department told ABC News. “When we started talking to him and got info about neo-Nazi and stuff in the apartment we called the FBI and we are certainly working with [them].”

Tampa police obtained a state search warrant for the apartment, where law enforcement discovered a cooler in the garage with a white, cake-like substance. Two FBI and Tampa Police Department bomb squad officials identified the substance as an explosive known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, according to a criminal report from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Other bomb-making materials and firearms were also found in the apartment. Nazi and white supremacist propaganda were discovered in Russell’s bedroom, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell, who is associated with the Army National Guard, allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was a national socialist, a neo-Nazi and a member of a self-organized group called “Atom Waffen,” which is German for atomic weapon, according to the criminal report. They say he also admitted to owning the explosive devices found in the garage, and said they were used to make homemade rockets in 2013 when he was in an engineering club at the University of South Florida.

Russell was arrested by the FBI on May 21 and is charged with possession of unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. It is unclear if he is represented by an attorney and has not been scheduled a court date yet.

Arthurs, who is represented by a public defender, has a hearing set for May 24 at 10 a.m. local time.

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